The Hillary Paradox

Can anybody tell me what the heck Hillary Clinton is up to?The Candidate

I mean, God love her, she ran a helluva campaign, and she would have been a helluva president, and the road to power is a helluva lot smoother for women now than it was a year ago at this time. But everyone in the country knows that it’s over and she didn’t win.

Everyone, that is, but Hillary Clinton.

OK, there is something to be said for perseverance against great odds. The British in World War 2, for example. They should have surrendered. They were totally outmatched, and their great cities were being bombed at will by the Germans. It was only a matter of time. But they held on — against all odds, I might add — and miraculously they were saved. Sure, it took a gigantic effort on the part of their American friends, but it happened because the Brits simply wouldn’t quit, even when it looked as if they were already defeated.

Is this what Senator Clinton thinks will happen to her? That maybe she’ll get that One Big Endorsement that will change everyone’s minds, or that Barack Obama will be caught on video swearing allegiance to Osama bin Laden? I mean, she’s not winning the popular vote, states won, the pledged delegates or the superdelegates. This whole idea that Florida and Michigan should be counted feels way too much like changing the rules after game has started. Her argument about winning in the big states is weak — New York and California, to name two, are solidly Democratic. The fact that she beat other Dems in those state primaries doesn’t mean that they’ll turn Republican in November if she’s not the nominee.

But Clinton is not stupid, and I don’t see her as delusional, so I have to ask: What the heck is she up to? What’s the point of continuing to campaign past the end? Some would say it’s the money. Her campaign is in the hole big time, largely to her, and she wants to keep the donations coming in so she can retire that debt. But I think she’s too honorable to pull a scam like that, getting people to send money for a goal she has already abandoned.


  • Is she making a power move for the Vice Presidency?
  • Is she trying to retire that huge debt?
  • Does she have something horrible on Obama that she’ll pull out around convention time?
  • Is she gunning for 2012?
  • Fill in your own answer here.

Help me out, people. I’m just trying to understand. I’m not one of those who has already decided that she will drop out of the race, and the only discussion is when she will do it and what she will negotiate for in exchange. I’m not standing by the door glancing at my watch and jingling my keys. I think she’s got something up her sleeve, and I want to know what it is.

And I want to know before she springs it, because I’m just that special kind of guy.

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18 Replies to “The Hillary Paradox”

  1. It must be a crushing defeat for her – she wants the presidency, nay she openly hungers for it.

    Hillary’s intelligent and she understands how history interpreted one’s actions. Perhaps the feminist part of her wants to push it as fall as possible. As a feminist, the linage from turn of the century suffragette to Clinton is well documented. To not concede but to have the Dem convention make the declaration to her: you lost. Giving up, throwing in the towel just doesn’t seem to be part of her value system and that, in turn, will be part of her feminist legacy.

    Then there’s the campaign debt – perhaps the longer she stays the course, there’s more fund raising – money not as easy to raise once the race is over.

  2. It’s fucking crazy. She mut have a picture of Obama with a white woman–maybe even with Her! Actually, I doubt it. She’s crazy, and has the bad luck to be surrounded by some dozens or hundreds of supporters who keep telling her that it’s Okay. She still has chances to be President in the future, but right now she might as well cut off her titties as to presume she’ll win this time around. Unless she has a Manchurian Candidate killer waiting in the wings?

  3. I think she thought that she might be able to reverse the course until very recently. Now, there’s so few primaries left that she might as well stay in it and use the convention to bargain for whatever it is she wants. I’m sure at this point she wants the VP.

  4. First off, she has not actually lost yet. Yes, I agree, she has NEARLY lost, but nearly isn’t all the way. And the money is part of it as well. I don’t remember the details, but eligibility for some kind of money is contingent on her staying in, IIRC.

    But here’s the thing. I’ve seen a number of posts recently–and if i weren’t such a loser I’d remember where, and provide links–noting that many candidates who had less chance than she does of winning stuck it out through the convention–and won. I don’t think she’s going to pull it off, but I don’t know why everyone thinks she shouldn’t try. And, really, people have been trying to get her to quit since Day fucking One.

    And, finally, I think it behooves her, and the party as a whole, for her to go into the convention with a lot of strength, even if it’s not quite enough strength. It gives her the ability to get heard. Given that I think she is, in many (but certainly not all) ways, more progressive/liberal than Obama, this is not a bad thing.

    One last thing: I think it is ultimately good for the Democrats, and good for democracy, that there’s a real contest. When was the last time that happened? It gives the Dems more air-time, for one thing, and how is that bad?

  5. kStyle – Hillary was inevitable, and so was the New Kids reunion.

    Ron – Over the top, as usual.

    Theresa – Wish I could help, babe.

    Bill, Vikki, Narya – Since the 1960’s, the party that has a floor fight at the convention loses the election. Maybe history won’t repeat itself, but why take a chance? Because if she can’t be President then no Democrat should be President?

    Look, her chances are slim and none. That’s the reality. By choosing “slim,” she is putting at risk the nation’s chance to avert another term of Republican war mongering, tax-cutting, job-outsourcing, etc., and she still won’t get to be President.

    I have to ask again — what is she up to, really?

  6. I’m not talking about a floor fight, per se. IIRC, it wasn’t obvious that either Jimmy Carter or Bill C. had the votes for the nomination–but win it, and the election, they did.

    I also think that people have been trying to get her to get out–i.e., saying the sky is falling–for far, far longer than that’s been a reasonable choice. I think her chances have gotten noticeably slimmer with each passing week, but they might well have gone in the other direction, and she continues to win in some states.

    I think it’s possible that she’ll do something stupid at the convention, but I think it’s also possible that she won’t. She’s not, by and large, a stupid person (I always thought she was smarter than Bill, and the two of them are by far the smartest people we’ve had in office in awhile).

    I don’t think she has anything up her sleeve other than the money thing (which may be considerable) and wanting to make a good show of it and wanting some bargaining power at the convention. Here’s another scenario (and I don’t know how likely it is; perhaps not very): she shows up, realizing she’s lost, and concedes in a big show of unity on the convention floor. I’d say that would increase viewership, and her overall strength, and possibly help get her supporters to vote for BO (because a certain number of supporters on both sides are threatening to take their ball and go home, which is just stupid).

  7. Narya – There have been eventual winners who didn’t perform well in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, or who were extreme underdogs before the campaigning began. But Obama won Iowa, and Clinton has been in second place ever since, despite strong showings here and there, and the campaign has been going on for months. I don’t think a candidate has trailed throughout the entire season and come from behind in the final week to win. She is tantalizingly close, I admit, but at this point her best argument is that “the popular vote” is all that counts (it’s not), and in order to give herself the edge there, she ignores all the caucus states (which she mostly lost) and tries to change the rules on Michigan and Florida. Her attempts to draw parallels between the 2000 Republican disenfranchisement of Florida voters and the DNC rules this time (agreed to by everyone in advance) is indecorous, to say the least.

    The way we’ve been playing the game for the past hundred years or so, the lesser candidate quits at some point when they still have some slender mathematical chance to win, so that their supporters can get used to the eventual winning candidate, and so that candidate has time to address their concerns publicly, resulting in the party having a better chance in the general.

    A win in November: that’s what I want. I don’t want her to fuck it up. I don’t care about gender issues or a history-making candidacy. I want all the potential Democratic voters to have someone to rally around and get ready to vote for.

    Now would be a good time for that to begin.

  8. Not quite true–the superdelegates have only been around for a generation or so, and that looked like it was going to be a factor for quite awhile.

    Also, Carter did not win the Iowa caucuses: “uncommitted” did, according to something I read this morning. And Bill Clinton didn’t exactly wow anyone with early wins.

    It’s easy to look back now, today, and interpret what has happened as BO rolling to victory, but it could have gone the other way–again, up until very, very recently. Do I think Hil’s chances have lessened gradually? Yes. But has it been obvious that that’s what was going to happen? No–not at all obvious, and the chances have lessened gradually, not in big jumps, and she continued to pick up delegates and wins.

    Thus, I think part of the dynamic is a certain boy-who-cried-wolf thing. People have been telling her she “ought to” quit for long before that was true, so anyone who wants to make the argument NOW has to overcome the fact that she’s been hearing it for a long time before it was finally true. And, even now, Obama has months to make his case, so blaming a loss on her is disingenuous at best at this point.

  9. Narya – This may be too fine a point, but what I’m saying is that there comes a time in a campaign where you might still win, but it’s highly unlikely, and proceeding beyond that point might cause unacceptable damage to your party. In fact, at that point you might have to crank up the proven successful tactic of attacking your opponent on personal grounds rather than debating real issues, thus lowering the level of the conversation to irelevancy and giving ammunition to the eventual opposition.

    Senator Clinton could still theoretically capture the nomination even today, but it has been a long time since there was a reasonable chance for her to do so. I’m not one who’s been suggesting that she drop out, and she was right to ignore premature partisan calls for her departure, but even though the curve has gone up and down, the trend has been bad for her since February 5, and it’s not true that we only know that in retrospect. The time is ripe now, in my opinion, for her to figure out a way to join the team that must rebuild the nation after the failed Bush Administration. If she thinks the way to do that is to continue her campaign for the nomination, then I hope she will drop her various proposals to change the rules and her disputes with the DNC Rules Committee and her public implications that McCain is a better choice than Obama and run a straight-ahead “My policies are better than Obama’s” campaign until someone gets 2,010 delegates.

    [Re: Carter and Bill Clinton: You make my point. They did poorly in the very early going, but long before the convention they were the presumptive nominees, and they both won in November.]

  10. Oh, come on, Larry, that’s not what she said, or the point she was trying to make, and she apologized profusely for the horrendously poor way she made her point. Tell you what. You go ahead and run for President and see if you make any stupid remarks along the way. I know I would–in the first week, most likely.

    Look, I don’t want to get into a position of defending her to the nth degree, because I don’t support her that much. I still say that, in many ways, most particularly health insurance (which I think is one of the one or two biggest things facing this country in the coming few years), she’s got a better handle on it than Obama. And Obama made completely stupid remarks about Social Security way back when–basically once again giving the republicans an opportunity to try to end Social Security, even though it is a program that works, and keeps old people from starving to death. He was yammering about reaching out to republicans, there for awhile, which is stupid as well. They do not want reaching out, they want to win. Always and only. There are the occasional exceptions, but the far-right wing has eliminated all but a few of those exceptions. Rove and the Nixon-trained ratfuckers have eliminated any real hope of bipartisanship, and Obama is dense if he doesn’t realize that. But I don’t see the piling on to Obama–he’s the great hope, the one who’s going to Change Everything. Umm, no, no he won’t. And I’m okay with that, so long as he doesn’t appoint any more Scalias to the Supreme Court, and so long as he doesn’t actually allow the assholes to end Social Security, and so long as he ends this fucking war.

    And, really, the article you linked made my point as well: she pointed out that people have been trying to get her to drop out since Iowa. Why should she listen now, given the victories she has amassed along the way? Now, I could tell you why she should listen/drop out now, and so could you, but I can understand why someone would be skeptical about hearing that message when they’ve been hearing it for so long. The wolf is really there this time? The sky really is falling this time? How can you tell?

    And trust me, I will be every bit as annoyed as you if she burns the house down. I have no idea whether she will–I haven’t followed this at all–but I also think it’s wrong to preemptively trash her for it. I do not think staying in the race = burning down the house. You could argue, probably successfully, that a bitter, ugly floor fight = burning down the house, but she hasn’t done that yet.

  11. Incidentally, I didn’t see this, but I saw it pinned up at the crunchy-granola restaurant in my neighborhood. Apparently, Larry King interviewed Jon Stewart recently. Larry brought up the primaries and asked Stewart if America is ready for a woman or a black president. Jon looked at him quizzically and said, “This is such a non-question. Did anyone ask us in 2000 if Americans were ready for a moron?”

  12. Narya – It was not merely a “stupid remark.” I make enough of them without running for president to know the difference. “Brutally insensitive” would be the best spin you could put on it. And her apology was political double-talk.

    If she wants to stay in the race, I’m OK with it. I still believe the Democrats will win big in November. You seem to be upset mainly because a lot of people want her to give it up. It’s turning out that they were right: she’s not going to win. The way it looked in March is pretty much the way it looks now, only with a lot less time for her to catch up. The fact that this was predicted earlier doesn’t mean she should continue to ignore reality now that the predictions are coming true.

    This campaign has been much longer than any previous one and the actual primary elections started two months earlier. June of ’92 is analogous to April of ’08. It’s now May, so I think you can say she and everyone else have had ample time to make their points and win support.

    I’ve been saying for a year now that the Republicans will not be able to overcome the Bush Effect in the next election, and I still think I’m right about that. I did not, however, expect anything like this. It’s unnerving, and I’ll be really ticked if it tips things just enough so that McCain can win.

  13. I think Ms. Clinton is giving back to those of us who support her. Just a few thoughts on that in terms of tradition:

    • In 1988, Jesse Jackson took his hopeless campaign against winner Michael Dukakis all the way to the convention, often to great media praise.

    • In 1980, Ted Kennedy carried his run against Jimmy Carter all the way to the convention, even though it was clear he had been routed.

    • In 1976, Ronald Reagan contested the “inevitability” of Gerald Ford all the way to the convention. Few, then or since, have ever thought to criticize Reagan’s failure to step aside and let Ford assume the mantle.

    • Also in 1976, three candidates — Mo Udall, Jerry Brown, and Frank Church — ran against Jimmy Carter all the way through the final primaries, even though Carter seemed more than likely to be the eventual nominee.

    • Even in 1960, Lyndon Johnson and Adlai Stevenson fought the “certain” nomination of John F. Kennedy all the way to the convention floor.

  14. AG – How can I argue with so much history? Especially since Narya has softened me up so much? I was around for all those events. Somehow this doesn’t feel the same. Maybe I have campaign fatigue. This has been the longest one I’ve ever seen. We need it to be over, so we can concentrate on McCain.

  15. Eh; I think part of the problem is that the media have been telling us (and her) that it’s over already and she should Just Quit Now. Because, OMG, it’ll be Bad for Democrats! Except they sound like a bunch of concern trolls to me. Krugman’s column Monday was an interesting part of this discussion, incidentally.

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